The first step to prevent genocide, is learn.

April 29, 2008
By Emily Foley, Lombard, IL

A single death is a tragedy,a million deaths is a statistic.-Josef Stalin

It cannot be said that every human is humane. It also cannot be said that people stand up for what is right, when their voice is alone. A total of 6 million Jews did not just die in the Holocaust overnight. The root cause of these deaths is hate. A hatred that seemed to be injected into a nation. Hatred forced them to look away form something that they would otherwise object to had they cared enough to see it. These were humans, everyday people, that were persecuted there religion. Though today society denies prejudice towards religions, it still exists. Without knowledge people are blinded and no longer see the pattern history weaves.

When speaking of the atrocity that the Holocaust created stories emerge that speak of women who had the audacity to pick and choose the the Jewish person that she was going to skin; then use as a canvas for her artwork. Then there is the story of the Jewish soldier who has the direct not to kill the woman who was so barbaric in her crafting of a canvas that it took all his strength not to shoot her. The stories of those who lost everyone they knew. Stories about families that were to afraid to stand up for their neighbors; then wishing desperately that someone would protect them. Lives shattered, destroyed by a mans hateful bitterness. The point is that these are not stories. These are peoples memories; and there are not that many left to speak with the younger generation. This is why it is vitally important to speak with those who still remember; the memories become instilled in the listening, creating a deeply rooted need for change. That knowledge provides the will to never let it happen again.

Sadly, it has. The idea of never again was to recognize the signs of genocide and intervene. Not for your self, but for the innocent who suffer. Rwanda's genocide happened in 100 days and over 800,000 people were killed. This was a hate that fueled the desire to kill unjustly. Now in Darfur, with governments helping the Janjaweed with military supplies. One would think that never again would sink in, and realize the horrific side effects of hate and greed that lead to genocides. But no one is intervening. No one will help, get involved, only see what is happening to unarmed civilians; all because no one will benefit from helping. This only shows that no one had a concept of never again. I do not know how much longer will it take for the lessons we have already learned to be in rooted into our core priorities, but I do think that our generation can do it.

Society claims that it no longer holds a prejudice against religion. However if you walk into any high school in America you will hear the exact opposite. You will hear ghastly stories of hate, and the pain that has been engraved into their identity. Not only will hear the stories of hate, there will also be the jokes concerning race, sexuality, religion, and even the Holocaust. One joke in particular has changed my perspective on this, “harmless fun.” An acquaintance of my who I considered to be a decent person sat next to me on the bus home, he asked if I wanted to hear a joke, I said yes. “How do you fit a million and two Jews into a car?” I knew where this was going and I told him to stop, he didn't. “You have one in the drivers seat, one in the passengers seat, and a million in the ash tray.” He then laughed at his own joke while I stared out the window. I remember thinking that no one in my life look as ugly to me than as he did at that moment. I was too stunned to tell him how wrong he actually was. I went home and cried because I could finally see that the prejudice of our past, is not fully our past yet. The pain that prejudice causes is not erased, but what can be done is simple, learn. What can be done to prevent the pain, hatred, and genocide; is learn. Hear the stories of the unequivocally largest form of hate, the Holocaust. To hear the stories of those who have survived is to in root in ones self the need to prevent, and the need for change.

In being the new generation the facts concerning the Holocaust are new as well. Though the past can not be changed, but it can still effect those who learn about it. Hoverer that new information presents a new opportunity, to take from the inhumane actions of a mans boorish quest for extermination, a new hope. To become knowledgeable and informed and finally being able to say never again, even if at the moment the voice is only one.

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